Recipe Review

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe Is Certainly Classic. But Is It Really the Best?

updated Oct 24, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

In middle school, when I first started getting into baking, I told my dad I wanted to bake a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. This was far before the internet was awash with recipes, and we didn’t have much of a cookbook collection, so he picked up a can of Libby’s pumpkin purée and told me the recipe I needed was right there on the label. I eagerly gathered the rest of the ingredients and baked it the night before Thanksgiving.

Since then, I’ve tried out a number of different pumpkin pie recipes, but I’ll always think of Libby’s as the most classic — and I know I’m not alone in that. The orange can and cursive script has become synonymous with fall baking (Thanksgiving especially), and the recipe printed online has almost 600 comments and an average of 4.7 stars. Needless to say, I knew I needed to include good old-fashioned Libby’s in our search for the absolute best pumpkin pie recipe. Honestly, I was super curious to see how it compared to some of the most popular recipes out there.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

How to Make Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie

While other pumpkin pie recipes call for a homemade crust, Libby’s specifically calls for a store-bought pie shell. That means all you need to do is make the filling. You’ll start by mixing sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl, and beating eggs in a large bowl. You’ll add the sugar and spice mixture to the eggs, along with a can of Libby’s pumpkin purée, and stir everything together. Then you’ll add a can of evaporated milk and stir to combine. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for 40 to 50 minutes more, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the pie for at least two hours before serving.

A quick note: Since testing this recipe, Libby’s released a new pumpkin pie recipe, dubbed “New Fashioned Pumpkin Pie.” (The old-fashioned and new-fashioned recipes will share real estate on the cans). The new recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk in place of granulated sugar, ups the amount of ground cloves by just a smidge, and calls for a slightly shorter bake time. We’re eager to try this version, but for the sake of our pumpkin pie showdown, we stuck to the classic recipe that many home cooks have been using for years.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

My Honest Review of Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie

Making this pie brought on some serious nostalgia. Libby’s pumpkin pie was one of the first things I ever baked, and it remained a staple on our Thanksgiving dessert spread for several years.

I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for this pumpkin pie. That, however, doesn’t make it the best pumpkin pie. I give it points for its ease and accessibility, but ultimately, I think I’ve moved on from Libby’s. My adult tastebuds now find the filling a little too sweet, which is likely because it’s made with a generous amount of white sugar and no brown sugar, which gives many pumpkin pies their nice molasses notes. I also prefer the clean taste of heavy cream or half-and-half rather than evaporated milk, which honestly tastes like it came from a can. That, plus the store-bought pie crust, made for a pie that just didn’t taste as homemade or complex as others.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

If You’re Making Libby’s Pumpkin Pie, a Few Tips

1. Buy the right pie shell. The recipe calls for a deep-dish pie shell, so make sure you buy that. Be warned, though — I bought this one and my filling still went all the way to the top and almost spilled over as I was transferring the pie to the oven. To prevent this, consider saving a bit of the filling and bake it in a ramekin for a mini crustless pie treat.

2. You can use your own pie crust if you prefer. Although the recipe calls for a store-bought pie shell, there’s no doubt the pie will taste better with a homemade crust. I like this recipe.

3. You can also swap in pumpkin pie spice. Since the filling calls for a classic mix of pumpkin pie spices, you can replace the individual spices with store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice if you happen to have it on hand (like we did here!). Just use 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie space in place of the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Rating: 6.5/10

Have you ever made Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie? Tell us what you thought! 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

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